I did a bunch research and I got it down to 2 machines, the Shapeoko Pro XXL and one other one. I was going back and forth. I finally had to do one of those pros and cons list.
Both have good reviews on the web. So I needed to start looking a bit deeper than just the machine and then the choice became obvious to me.
In no particular order here are some of my pro thoughts on the Shapeoko ;
I wanted a headless system as my shop it not computer friendly. There is a great discussion between Carbide and the Community group using a Raspberry Pi. This is 2 points. 1. It was great to see Carbide working with their users and the users helping Carbide. 2. Most of all my other equipment uses Pi’s, they make a great dedicated appliance. They handle the environment well and just do their job. I also believe it opens up things to more creativity from a larger audience. It gives me the ability to customize my tools to what I need. I am building a custom enclosure and building this into it and I cant do this with a laptop. (FYI. it works great, I love it )
I called each company as I had some questions for each. Carbide was great, They answered all my questions. Gave me some great advice. Helped me with the purchase and followed up with an email.
I checked out the manual online. The manual they give you is great, lots of nice color pictures, they break the assembly into chapters, They layout everything you need for each chapter. I found it very easy to follow. They even include all the tool, straps, extra parts, Loctite “assembled by” tag and felt pen, I was impressed.
Free shipping is always nice. It is just nice that I don’t need to worry about it.
It was a complete kit for me, everything I needed in one shipment, I just needed to add a router. I added the Carbide one which they put into the same package.
I checked out the Community Sites. I saw lots of good helpful people and Carbide was involved and helping out. I saw a thread on the other guys site of the community beating a person up for having a newbie opinion. Then he got defensive and it went way off topic.
I found Carbide’s site is very helpful by providing good documentations and reference material and pointing to all kinds of good sites with further material. If there is good information out there, they were not afraid to point to it and share it with their users.
Carbide provides their own software with good reviews but you are not limited to it, which also contributes to the complete package.
When I was looking, we are in trying times which has made availability of inventory tough for a lot of companies along with other industry challenges. 3 to 6 month delays. I was surprised that they were still shipping in a couple of days. To me that meant they have been working hard to make sure everything is still in place to meet their customers needs.
Shapeoko has been around for awhile and is tried true and tested, yet Carbide appears not to be afraid to move ahead with new ideas as the industry keeps evolving. I have to say that the other machine had some great new ideas and is very nice, a newer company with some fresh ideas and I believe is a bit of a game changer for the industry. However I felt I did not have the luxury to take chances.
In addition to a good warranty and the “let us make it right” approach Shapeoko offers a “30 Day User Error Warranty”.
The more I looked, the more it kept painting a good picture that Carbide does not just make machines, they are the whole package. If they took this much attention to the packaging, manuals, web site, Community and … then to me that speaks volumes to their values as a whole.
Both Machines are good machines, both headless, The deciding factors basically came down to a complete kit, Tried True and Tested back by a Company and Community with good values.
When I got the machine, sweet, I was not wrong.